Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all my lovely readers! May your holiday bring you happiness and peace, even if you’re unable to travel or meet with family in person. This year’s been rough to say the least, but times like these make the holidays all the more important. Remember, the holidays are what you make of them no matter what’s going on in the world around you. Stay safe, be merry and thank you all for making my holidays a little brighter. 🙂
A long, long time ago in a place….directly where I am now, maybe a few feet away, Twix watched an anime called Aishiteruze Baby. Twix was not one to be easily swayed by stories of little children. No, she was a jaded old grump whose thoughts would instantly jump to ‘Oh god, here comes an annoyance.’ whenever a child character would be introduced to, well, pretty much anything, which she’s now realizing is insanely ironic because her favorite TV show as a kid was Rugrats.
The point is, it would’ve taken quite the lovable little kid and a nice heartwarming story for her to really be invested in an anime centered on a little kid. And Aishiteruze Baby was that anime.
I dunno why I keep doing the storybook-esque intro. Anyway, it’s been eons since I watched Aishiteruze Baby. In fact, it was one of the first dozen shows I ever reviewed.
Aishiteruze Baby is the story of five year old Yuzuyu who has been temporarily abandoned by her mother. Her teenage cousin, Kippei, is forced to take care of her until his family can figure out where Yuzuyu’s mother is and when or if she intends on coming back for her daughter. The story explores how Kippei adjusts to being a surrogate parent to Yuzuyu while also trying to balance his own life, and how Yuzuyu copes with being abandoned by her mother as more and more time goes on.
I really enjoyed the series when I first watched it. Kippei was a sweetheart, his relationship to Kokoro, his stoic yet lonely girlfriend, was nicely done, the stories were cute and heartwarming with some well-done drama and tension, and Yuzuyu was a PWECIOUS WITTLE CUPCAKE!! She was such a little sweetie, and she was so adorable, and she loved Kippei so much, and she was so cute, and so sweet and she so cute and she was so sweet and she so cute and she was s—
I really enjoyed watching Kippei mature and take to his new role as a parent more and more to the point where he was excitedly doing stuff for Yuzuyu, even without anyone telling him to. I loved seeing Yuzuyu have fun with Kippei and everyone else, even if it was tough watching her whenever she’d be reminded of her mother or when she was thinking she was a burden on Kippei. While it’s not a perfect show, I really enjoyed every minute of it.
The only two real issues I had with the show were that the very serious conflicts they’d bring up were usually resolved too quickly, and there wasn’t really much of an ending, though I didn’t think the ending was as unsatisfactory as many seemed to think. I knew the manga had properly ended and I pretty much knew what the ending was, but it would be well over a decade before I finally sat down and read it to see if it was also void of the other problems I had with the anime.
Well, was it?
….No, not really.
Let me back up.
First of all, to my recollection, the anime did a very good job adapting most of the stories from the manga. About 90% of the story material here I remember being in the anime, loosely or exactly, so in that regard, good job, anime.
Second of all, sadly, yes, the series still has that problem of bringing up a lot of serious issues and resolving them super quickly and sometimes overly easily. I mentioned the storyline with the stalker in my initial review of the series, and that story was resolved exactly the same way in the manga.
For a differentiation on this issue, we also have a story of a little boy named Shouta. He became fast friends with Yuzuyu, but it’s revealed that his mother is terribly abusive. How is this resolved in the manga?
Kippei has a conversation with his mother, pointing out that her behavior is going to drive Shouta away someday. She takes a good hard look at herself, stops being an abusive shitstain and convinces her husband to move them away to the country where it’s quiet and less stressful, which is totally easy to do considering the fact that he doesn’t have a job is one of the key points of her stress.
I’m not saying that things couldn’t happen like this in real life, but the odds are insanely low.
You need to understand something – this bitch is a monster. She wouldn’t just hit Shouta. She’d make him feel like garbage. She’d make this five year old boy feel like he was an embarrassment to her, like everything was his fault and everything he was doing was wrong. And she’d sometimes do it with a smirk. She wasn’t just terrible to Shouta, either. She was also an asshole to Kippei AND YUZUYU! But yeah, sure, one conversation with Kippei would certainly turn her around entirely and make everything better.
Believe it or not, the anime did this much better. We get more backstory on why his mother started acting this way, not that it’s much to sympathize with. She had difficulty coping with the challenges of being a parent, and, seemingly, Shouta was a bit behind other kids his age, which made her believe Shouta was an embarrassment. She quickly started taking her frustrations out on Shouta for pretty much everything and began smacking him around.
Kippei does talk to Shouta’s mom, but it doesn’t really sink in fully. Shouta accidentally runs into her when she has groceries in her arms, causing her to drop them everywhere. She slaps him so hard he fell down the stairs, knocking him out, and he had to be sent to the hospital. The doctor treating him finds all of the old bruises on his body and suggests she and her husband seek family counseling. He tells them that, if they ask for it, people will help them.
As a result, his mother realized what a monster she’s been to him, and even her husband realizes that he’s been failing as a parent. After Shouta recovers, they move to the country to be with Shouta’s grandparents so they can help take care of Shouta and her husband can have a better chance at finding steady work. The country lifestyle will also be more relaxing and hopefully relieve some of the stress his mother has. She proclaims that she’s no longer afraid to ask for help if she needs it. All she wants is to start over.
Nearly getting your kid killed, someone suggesting therapy to you and having such a deep moment of self-reflection that leads you down a better path is more preferred than just another instance of Kippei’s Talk no Jutsu. I’m just sad Shouta had to suffer more in the anime than in the manga.
Another plotline involved Yuzuyu’s cousin, Miki, attempting to kidnap Yuzuyu. In the anime, she would carry around a bike chain as a weapon, but in the manga she wielded a KNIFE and would even threaten Yuzuyu with it. I don’t care if she never intended to actually hurt Yuzuyu, you don’t hold up a knife to a little kid.
Miki was a horribly depressed girl, to the point of self-harm and suicidal ideation. She wanted to kill herself, but she didn’t want to leave her parents without a child, so she decided she would kidnap Yuzuyu and give her to them. No, it really doesn’t make any sense, but mental illness isn’t exactly known for creating logical thought. At home, Miki’s life was a nightmare.
She wanted to oust an incident of a teacher viciously beating a student, which made all of her teachers target her. All of her classmates harassed her, even the person she was trying to defend, who just told her she should’ve stayed out of it. Her parents were no help, either. Her father even hit her when he found out about her poor performance in school.
She’s about to commit suicide via cutting her throat and jumping off a bridge, but Kippei talks her down and convinces her to go back to her family by telling her she’s still important to several people and plenty of people still want to talk to her, which is all she needed to hear.
This one I’m more lenient about. These kinds of situations diffuse under a multitude of circumstances, so I’m definitely not going to say that’s an unrealistic way of going about things. Plus, her troubles really didn’t just end there. She still had to talk with her parents. Her father, by the way, upon hearing that his daughter just tried to kill herself, nearly smacked her again while yelling “You’re still causing trouble!?” Father of the fucking year.
Her mother was much more receptive, however, and is able to get her dad to stop being a dumbass and listen to her. In the end, we just know Miki is on a healthier path, not that her life is fixed or anything. She reappears later and is, indeed, getting better, which is great.
Sadly, one of those rushed resolved plotlines was the main one. Like I mentioned, there wasn’t really a solid ending to the anime. Yuzuyu was concerned she would someday forget her mother since she outgrew the pajamas she had made for her, but after talking with Kokoro about their mothers and loneliness, she felt better. The pajama plotline, by the way, is part of the manga too, but it’s quite a bit earlier. Reiko (Kippei’s older sister) finds Yuzuyu’s mother, who is apparently so far away that she needed to take a plane to get there.
Yuzuyu’s mother, Miyako, had initially abandoned Yuzuyu because her husband had recently died and she couldn’t handle the stress of being a single parent. After his funeral, she couldn’t stop herself from crying. It reached a boiling point when she struck Yuzuyu for no reason. Thus she left her kid behind in her house and vowed to return when she felt she was mentally strong enough to handle taking care of Yuzuyu properly. She doesn’t call, she doesn’t send letters, except once, and the one time she came to check up on Yuzuyu she wore a disguise and skulked around Yuzuyu’s school.
When we catch up to Miyako in the finale, we learn that she’s been counting the days that she’s been trying really hard to not cry and she got a job to save money for Yuzuyu’s care when she returned for her. When she feels she can make it through without crying, she’ll come for Yuzuyu.
Most people, justifiably, dislike Yuzuyu’s mom. I totally understand if she was struggling mentally and emotionally with her husband’s death and being a single parent, and I get that striking your kid has to be difficult to process when you’re actually remorseful about it, but she went about this in the worst way possible. She really comes off as just being selfish and stupid as a result.
Her family seems like they’re really nice and accommodating people. If family is in dire straits, they welcome them to live in their home without barely batting an eye. In the manga, even when Kippei proclaims that he wants his girlfriend, Kokoro, to live with them because she’s lonely living all alone, they’re just like ‘Eh sure! Welcome!’
Why didn’t she just come to them and ask if she and Yuzuyu could live with them? Why didn’t she ask if they could take care of Yuzuyu during the day, sleepover some time, etc. while she got her shit together and maybe sought some therapy? Abandoning her child and never really making an effort to communicate with her was one of the worst options she could’ve taken.
But we’re not even done with her yet.
In the manga, Reiko still tracks down Yuzuyu’s mother, being tired of hearing or seeing nothing from her for months on end. When she finds her, she appears to be living with a man. Reiko was enraged by this because she perceived this as Miyako ditching her kid and going to live a new life with some man with no intentions of ever coming back for her daughter.
This especially hurt Reiko because it’s revealed after this that Reiko cannot bear children, so she has no intentions of marrying or leaving the house (Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense either.) She sees Miyako have a child, what Reiko views as a precious gift, and to seemingly just throw her away is already a massive sin in her eyes, but to do that and then move in with some guy is practically unforgivable to her.
She and Kippei have a private discussion later, and Reiko basically tells him to have Yuzuyu forget about her mother. She’s not coming back, and continuing to give Yuzuyu false hope will only hurt her in the long run. Yuzuyu was listening to this, and she was so shocked that she actually did forget her mother.
All of this ongoing trauma and Reiko’s final words about her mother basically caused Yuzuyu to have a mental breakdown to the point where she was having massive fits when her mother was brought up and she was even passing out due to the emotional strain.
Even though Kippei was having a lot of difficulty finding the heart to let go of Yuzuyu, they do decide to start sending Miyako letters and pictures Yuzuyu drew to her mother, now that they knew where she lived.
Even though Kippei was very uneasy about the idea of Miyako writing back or coming back, they still checked every day for a return letter from her, to no avail.
One night, as Reiko gets the mail, she finds a letter from Miyako simply saying “I’ll be coming to pick up Yuzuyu on her birthday.” And, surprise, her birthday is in just a couple of days. Reiko, however, doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want to upset the birthday festivities in case Miyako doesn’t come.
Yuzuyu’s birthday comes around, and Miyako does indeed arrive to take Yuzuyu back. Kokoro takes Yuzuyu upstairs before she becomes aware of her mother’s arrival.
Miyako’s got some ‘splainin’ to do. So, what does she have to say for herself? While she’s been gone, she’s gotten a new job and has been saving up little by little for when she’d get Yuzuyu back. She realizes that she was selfish and naive, but she needed some time to be alone and figure herself out. She asserts that didn’t throw Yuzuyu away – she got away from her to protect her…..which is still bullshit.
Like I pointed out before, there were so many other options she could have taken that would have been a lot more helpful and beneficial to both her and Yuzuyu. Even if she felt she was a danger to Yuzuyu, she could have explained the situation to her sister and worked some arrangement out with her. She still could have had time to herself while also keeping in touch and ensuring her daughter that she would indeed come back for her. You don’t ditch her without barely a word, go missing and only send two letters in the several months you stay gone. Have 23 hours and 50 minutes to be alone, and at least attribute 10 minutes to a friggin’ phone call, you idiot.
“I had no choice, no matter what you think.” Fuck off, yes you did.
But, again, we’re still not done.
Reiko bitterly asks what she means by wanting to be alone since she saw her living with a man. I’ll give Miyako’s response in her own words.
“We’re….not actually living together. I met him at work. And he provides comfort to me in many ways.” In layman’s terms, he’s boinking her.
Misako (Kippei’s mom/Miyako’s sister): “Do you plan to marry him?”
“Yes, I do….I talked to him about Yuzuyu….and it took him quite a while to accept the idea. But it seems like he’s finally accepted it. So…”
Are you kidding me? This nameless dude you’re obviously boinking boinked the bad parent out of you, and then he didn’t like the idea of taking Yuzuyu in, even though she’s the daughter of the woman he supposedly loves, and now he’s ‘finally accepted it’ like it’s an inevitability that he has to bear in order to keep his sex ticket.
You’ve been gone for, what, a year at this point? And THAT’S the best you’ve been able to do? No seeking therapy? No gaining true independence? Just shacking up with some guy who, I guess, has been so kind as to stomach the idea of his fiancee’s daughter living with them.
I wasn’t expecting to actually be angry at the manga’s resolution. At least in the anime it seemed like Miyako was striving to gain the strength to return to Yuzuyu on her own, even if the method was quite questionable. Here, it’s almost like she’s expecting this guy to take care of everything. He’s got the house, he can provide money, he’ll be able to ensure Miyako doesn’t backhand Yuzuyu again, I guess. She did mention getting a job, but that’s about it – and the problem was never that they didn’t have money. It was shown that Miyako would chew Yuzuyu out for stupid shit even when her father was still alive, so this won’t fix anything.
This is so much less Miyako bettering herself and trying to become a good mom to Yuzuyu and more her improving a little and finding Yuzuyu a new daddy.
I’m not alone in feeling this way because both Reiko and Misako don’t accept her words. They blatantly tell her that her explanations aren’t good enough and they can’t just hand Yuzuyu over because of that. They tell her to go home, but also tell her that if she’s serious about getting Yuzuyu back that she has to visit every single day to prove her determination. Then, eventually, she’ll earn the right to get Yuzuyu back.
Meanwhile, Kokoro and Yuzuyu wait in her bedroom. Kokoro asks what Yuzuyu thinks of her mom, and she replies that she thinks her mom loves her. She sent her a bunch of letters, so of course she loves her (I don’t really get that either, but maybe it’s just kindergartner logic.)
After Misako sets her terms, Kokoro brings Yuzuyu downstairs, much to everyone’s surprise. Yuzuyu finally reunites with her mom, and Miyako even shows her all of the letters Yuzuyu sent her, telling her what a talented artist she’s become. However, Misako soon silently interjects, and Miyako knows she must go. She tearfully leaves, promising to come back again, much to Yuzuyu’s dismay.
Yuzuyu runs after her, and Kippei goes off to get something. Yuzuyu calls again and again for her mother, but Kippei stops Yuzuyu….to give her her shoes. He tells her to go because she’s wanted to be with her mother all this time and it’s what she’s truly wants. He tells her he loves her, in a scene which nearly made me cry, and Yuzuyu runs back to her mom.
Kippei doesn’t stick around for more than a few seconds, however. He runs back into the house and sadly crumbles in front of the door, looking at the birthday cake he made her and her teddy bear lying on the floor. He’ll always cherish their time together no matter what.
Cut ahead to….I’m gonna guess maybe ten years in the future. Kokoro is rushing Kippei out the door to get him to work. She tells him he got a letter from Yuzuyu, which we see on the table in front of her teddy bear.
As we see a now teenage Yuzuyu back home, she explains in the letter that she’s still doing art, and is apparently so good at it now that she’s won an award for it. She tells Kippei that she was never lonely when her mom left because she always had her Kippei Onii-chan with her to make her lunches, take her to school and play with her. Those are precious memories to her, and she thanks him for everything he did. She closes out the letter telling Kippei that she’s always really loved him.
And as a special treat, apparently Yuzuyu and Shouta reunited and may or may not be an item now. They’re at least friends, and that’s good enough for me.
For all of my bitching about Yuzuyu’s mom, this absolute end did hit me more than I expected it to. As I was re-reading the passage again while writing this, I was actually tearing up, which was annoying because I just managed to get through her and Kippei departing from each other without getting misty eyed.
I really just wish we 1) had more insight as to what was going on in the future with Yuzuyu, Kippei and Kokoro at least (but all of the characters would’ve been very much welcome) and 2) that it had been less abrupt of a shift.
Still, it was a very fitting end to the series, and it reminded me all over again why I really love these two.
While we’re still on the subject of storylines that didn’t make it to the anime, however, there was quite the doozy that was omitted….Two doozies, technically. Maybe three.
Doozy 1: Buckle up, buttercup, because this doozy is….a…doozy. We’re introduced to Itagaki, or as I affectionately call him ‘Creepy Asshole.’ Technically, Itagaki was in the anime for a fleeting moment. He was an artist there, and he asked Kokoro out on a date. She refused because she was dating Kippei and…that was pretty much it.
In the manga, there’s an entire arc about this guy.
Here, he’s a baseball player, but that’s not important. He admits to Kokoro that he likes her, but she rejects him because she’s dating Kippei. Itagaki won’t stand down, however. He confesses to her again and reminds her of what a playboy Kippei is (he does have a tendency to flirt, but he’s completely devoted to Kokoro.) Still, she turns him down, but this time he’s not accepting that. He grabs her arm and forces a kiss on her. She manages to struggle away, bruising her leg in the process, and she’s traumatized by the assault. She becomes very nervous and jumpy, even around Kippei, and she becomes distant to all of her friends.
Kokoro decides not to tell Kippei about what happened, and, guess what? Creepy Asshole legitimately thinks that her choosing to not tell her boyfriend about the sexual assault is proof that she likes him more than Kippei.
Bear in mind that literally 30 seconds before he said this, Kokoro was telling Itagaki she didn’t want anything to do with him and never wanted to speak to him again. Whoo yeah, Itagaki. She’s falling for you hard….as in literally….ya know that thing she did when she was trying to fight off your sexual assault.
She, of course, shoots him down again, but the Creepy Asshole persists. This time he goes to Kippei himself. Itagaki tells Kippei that he confessed to Kokoro and that the reason Kokoro has been so distant from him lately is probably because Kokoro feels the same way.
Kippei, not being a creepy asshole, handles this pretty well and realistically. Before Itagaki confronts him, Kippei gives Kokoro her space and doesn’t get angry or frustrated with her. After he learns of the confession, he simply finds Kokoro and asks her about it, plainly wondering if she plans on breaking up with him. Again, he’s not angry or judging her, he’s legitimately concerned about their relationship.
Kokoro breaks down and talks about the assault. Kippei wants to confront Itagaki immediately, but Kokoro stops him. Instead he comforts her and reassures her, staying with her for as long as she needs him.
Uhm, I kinda can’t talk about the resolution to this plotline without moving onto doozy 2.
Doozy 2: Kokoro and Kippei end up making love as a result of this. They’re on a school trip and in a hotel room, and it just kinda naturally happens. It’s not graphic or anything, and even the implications only last a few panels, but it was a really sweet and beautiful moment for the two of them. They never sleep together in the anime.
Doozy 1 cont.: After the deed is thoroughly done, Itagaki deduces that the two of their groins did the fusion dance. And, as if he wasn’t enough of a douchebag, Itagaki acts as if her sleeping with Kippei is a betrayal to HIM and basically implies that she’s a slut for having slept with Kippei behind his back.
Itagaki: “Even though I’m here, you still went and did that as if it was okay, Tokunaga-san. I didn’t think you were that type of person.”
Even after Kippei confronts him, with Kippei not even bringing up the sexual assault for the sake of Itagaki and Kokoro (they’re having this fight in the hallway in front of numerous people), Itagaki has the balls to say Kippei should give up on Kokoro and HE brings up that they kissed.
Luckily, Kippei verbally tears him a new one, and Kokoro tells Itagaki she never wants anything to do with him ever again.
The last we see of him is one of his friends acknowledging that his manner with girls is messed up and asks if he wants him to teach him on how to date. Kokoro briefly mentions later that she hasn’t seen Itagaki ever since that confrontation, and Itagaki was thankfully gone from this manga forever.
Doozy 3: Still building off of that entire plotline, our final doozy is a pregnancy scare. Soon after Kokoro and Kippei have their first time together, she starts developing weird symptoms and believes she’s pregnant.
Now…this doesn’t really go anywhere because she later realizes she wasn’t pregnant. Kippei realizes that he’s been a bit too preoccupied with Yuzuyu, which kinda made him not realize Kokoro was acting weird. Kokoro says she was actually looking forward to being pregnant a little, because she wanted to spend more time with Kippei. And it mostly just culminates in Kippei inviting Kokoro to live in their house so she can be less lonely and spend more time with him and Yuzuyu, which both his family and Kokoro happily accepts.
I was disappointed a little because this would have been the perfect opportunity for them to discuss the possibility of them someday having kids, but it somehow doesn’t really come up. Remember, they’re 17 so it’s not really completely illogical for them to be having discussions about someday having a family.
Something unfortunate I noticed is that Kokoro, in the manga, is actually flatter than she is in the anime. 90% of her character is her relationship to Kippei. 8% is her being lonely and the other 2% is her being stoic and seemingly cold.
Her backstory is that her mom died some time ago and her dad is getting remarried, so he’s basically kicking her out of the house for when his new wife moves in. She doesn’t seem to care, and the apartment her father gets for her is extremely nice (because her family is rich), but it’s the foundation of the running issue with her character being lonely.
It’s perfectly understandable that she is lonely, but it really is the bulk of her character when she’s on screen and not with Kippei. She’s lonely, and she either expresses it to Kippei or not. Over time, it becomes easier for her to express her loneliness and not be afraid of it. After Kokoro moves in with him and his family, she really doesn’t do much but be with Kippei and sometimes play with Yuzuyu.
She’s friends with two other girls, Aki and Mai (the latter of whom is basically just Kokoro lite with more expression in public), who are typically seen sticking up for Kokoro whenever they think Kippei has done something wrong. Aki is particularly vocal about putting Kippei in his place and blaming him for pretty much anything. In a side story, they reveal that she hates men and is terrified of them. When she was 16, a man in a trench coat flashed her, and she’s thought men were nothing but perverts ever since. She even has recurring nightmares about the flasher and panics when a man approaches her from behind.
And this is one of those plots that is resolved abruptly and in a rather unsatisfying manner.
Aki was closest to a boy named Shin, whom she had known since elementary school. She didn’t see Shin as either male or female, so their relationship got on fine. However, when he started expressing interest in girls, Aki started resenting him, believing he was indeed another pervert man.
Despite Aki’s traumas being very valid, she still secretly holds a desire to also be sought after by guys (particularly Shin). She feels like she might not be cute enough or attractive enough.
She’s spooked accidentally by a male teacher, causing her to scream and run off. Shin finds her, she yells out that she hates men and she hates Shin and then Shin just kisses her and says “Don’t say hate! You love me!” And then she realizes he’s right because he was the one she turned to all the time, even when the flasher incident happened, and the story ends with them seemingly getting together even though I don’t remember Shin showing up in the regular story.
You know that joke that a lot of people make about female leads in romance movies and romantic comedies? That they make it seem like all of your problems can be solved by a man? Well, apparently, even lasting trauma brought on by sexual harassment is one of those problems.
Now why did I just go through all of that for the sake of a character who doesn’t really impact the main plot at all? Because I can write all that about a character like Aki but I can barely write a paragraph on Kokoro.
Don’t get me wrong, I still adore her relationship with Kippei, and it’s not like she likes him for shallow reasons. She loves that he never says anything to hurt anybody, he’s so carefree yet caring that she feels more at ease around him, and he’s the one who is able to make her smile the most.
Problem is, it’s kinda hard to describe her without resorting to either calling her Kippei’s girlfriend or just saying she’s lonely. She’s nice, but she also comes off as cold and unfriendly sometimes. She’s also willing to be blunt about some things, especially when it comes to Kippei. She connects with Yuzuyu on a level Kippei can’t quite get because she lost her mother, but she never becomes a mother or even big sister-like figure to her.
The issue with her father, which is the most prominent part of her story that doesn’t have anything to do with Kippei, isn’t even one that’s properly resolved. She never goes back and talks with her dad or explains her feelings. The guy never gets redeemed or anything. He never pops up again after Kokoro moves out, which happens in the first couple of volumes. We don’t know if he knows Kokoro moved in with Kippei and his family, which is something you’d think he’d have words about if he cared about his daughter.
In the anime, they did explore this aspect a bit further. We saw more of Kokoro as a kid. After her mother’s death, she became more independent and closed herself off. It took a few years for her mother’s death to truly hit her emotionally, but she slowly started becoming increasingly lonely. One day, she found that all of the pictures of her mother that were hanging up throughout the house were taken down. Her father explained that she wouldn’t stop crying when she looked at them, so he put them away. Shortly after he did this, he brought home the woman he intended to marry.
The last shot we see of Kokoro’s dad, she’s walking by his house and he’s snipping roses to help keep local kids from getting hurt on the thorns. She and her mother had planted that rose bush together, and, again, it seemed like he was wiping her memory away. Kokoro is terrified that she’ll forget her mother entirely. She’s even forgotten what her voice sounded like.
Kokoro’s dad did offer to have Kokoro come in the house to talk about things, but she refused, and that was the end of that in regards to her dad. It’s weird how one of the aspects of her character development is opening up more to others, but she never expresses her feelings to her father or mends bridges with him.
I still really like Kokoro, and the problems with her character aren’t very severe, but I just think they should have fleshed her out more to help allow her to be a stronger character on her own, considering she’s such an important part of Kippei’s life.
One other storyline that was not included in the anime was Aya and Akari Ooga. Aya is about Yuzuyu’s age and Akari is about Kippei’s age. Their situation is fairly similar to Yuzuyu and Kippei’s in that Akari is usually the one who has to care for Aya since their parents are constantly working. Truth be told, I nearly forgot about this plotline, mostly because they don’t impact the main story much. Akari’s presence makes Kokoro a little jealous, especially when they connect through the kids, and she asks him for help once or twice, but, again, Kippei is entirely devoted to Kokoro and has no interest in Akari that way, Akari also says she has no interest nor does have time for a boyfriend, and Kokoro is never seriously jealous, so it’s kinda pointless.
The biggest point of conflict in that story is Aya overhearing Akari say something like she wishes she could just live a normal life instead of watching Aya all the time, but it’s fixed rather easily by just clearing up the misunderstanding. There was also a point where Aya, Yuzuyu and Marika (Yuzuyu’s friend) got lost in the city because they were trying to find Aya’s parents, but they were all okay.
Their storyline wasn’t bad, and Akari and Aya are nice enough characters, but I didn’t see much of a point in it, especially since their situation is so similar to Yuzuyu and Kippei’s situation that it makes it seem redundant. In fact, there’s a plotline where Yuzuyu tries to walk home by herself in order to not be a burden on Kippei, and Kippei and Yuzuyu get sick after the brief story about Aya getting sick, so it’s pretty much exactly the same.
A couple more characters I want to touch upon are Marika and Satsuki.
Satsuki is Kippei’s younger brother. He’s very blasé about pretty much everything, he’s extremely mature for his age, and that’s really all there is to his character. There’s only one episode of the anime that delves into his story even a little, and the same can be said of the manga.
In that story, a girl named Ayumi has a big crush on him, but she becomes convinced that he doesn’t like tall girls with long hair and he doesn’t like models (she’s a model) all because her friends are assholes who told her that for seemingly no reason. However, when she confronts him and confesses, he tells her he doesn’t dislike those things. Then it’s kinda implied that they’re dating afterward, even though she doesn’t appear again.
I just don’t really understand why he’s here. He does have a few cute moments with Yuzuyu and bonds with her a little, but that’s about it. Again, this is another situation where I don’t dislike his character or even his lone storyline, but I just struggle to understand his actual role in the main plot.
Unlike Satsuki or the Ooga sisters, however, there is one character whom I do dislike, and her name is Marika. Yuzuyu has two main friends at school – Marika and Ken. While Ken is a nice enough boy, there’s nothing much to say about him. Marika, on the other hand, is a stuck up bitch.
Oh fine, let’s be “FAIR” to the five year old. Pft.
All joking aside, Marika really is just a brat. She brags a lot around Yuzuyu, she makes nasty comments, and most of her moments are either making Yuzuyu feel bad or gushing over Kippei, whom she has a crush on.
She can be alright when she’s just hanging out, but usually she’s insufferable.
There’s one point in the anime where she’s pretty okay, though. Their kindergarten class is assigned to write a letter to whomever they deem as their special someone. Yuzuyu writes one to Kippei and Marika writes one to Yuzuyu. We never learn what it says, but the gesture is more than kind enough.
A girl in their class, Namiko, does her letter project with Yuzuyu and tells her that she doesn’t like Marika because she boasts and brags, she interrupts people and she ‘doesn’t look good in ribbons and socks.’
Marika gets angry upon hearing this and calls her a stupid jerk, Namiko cries, though she was clearly putting on an act, and sticks her tongue out at Marika as she leaves the classroom. Yuzuyu asks Namiko if she’s jealous of Marika. She doesn’t get an answer and decides to go outside to do her letter project with Marika, who is crying over what Namiko said. The end of this story is Marika asking Yuzuyu a question. She boasts and brags and loses her temper easily – is that okay with her? Yuzuyu says it is and then she says then that makes them friends.
This storyline is pretty cute and it does redeem Marika to some degree, but this also is not very healthy. Marika’s basically saying “Look, I’m a total jerk, even to you, are you cool with that?” And Yuzuyu’s just like ‘Yup!’ It’s not like Namiko didn’t have a reason to say what she said. Marika IS a braggart. She IS a glutton for attention. And she’s a brat. It’s great that Yuzuyu sees the good in Marika, but she’s not really making an effort to be better. It’s like that ‘If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best’ thing.
Yes, I’m still aware we’re talking about five year olds. If this can be a series where a stalker of Kippei’s thinks his five year old cousin is a romantic threat, I can believe a five year old can realize she’s a bit of a harpy and try to be a better person.
Granted, Namiko’s still in the wrong anyway for making fun of her socks and ribbons. And earlier she purposely got her new socks dirty because Marika was showing them off to Yuzuyu. Didn’t say Namiko wasn’t a brat too, she just seemingly has a slight reason to be a brat.
And remember this one bit of genuine niceness is only in the anime. In the manga, she’s not quite as insufferable because she doesn’t have as many scenes, but she never gets a chance to redeem herself or have a really nice moment with Yuzuyu.
And….I think that’s all there is to say. While the anime is a bit dated in the art department, I’d definitely give both the anime and the manga a big recommend. The anime omits some parts of the manga, though how much that truly impacts your experience depends greatly on how interesting and important the Itagaki plotline seems to you (since the parts with them sleeping together and the pregnancy scare can be omitted without bothering anything) and which ending seems better to you.
While I was writing this, I found that way more people hated the way the manga ended than I originally thought, so make of that what you will. The general complaint was that they thought Kippei and Kokoro should have adopted Yuzuyu, and they were angry that we didn’t get much of an update on any other characters after the time skip, the latter of which is very understandable. Plus, people seemed to not realize the woman at the end with Kippei was Kokoro. *shrug*
I think both versions still provide a really great experience, though. It’s a very cute and heartwarming (and heartbreaking) story that never fails to hit the right chords with me. While you can make the argument that it’s a little melodramatic sometimes and some of the plotlines get resolved a bit too easily, I never really felt like anything was that unrealistic. Things in real life can be very dramatic and dark, and sometimes they can be put on a better path with a few simple words.
……But mostly THERAPY. Go get therapy, Miyako. Jesus. I’m glad that the future glimpse of you seems like you’re in a better place, but still therapy. Grief counseling. Family counseling. Anything. The actually abusive monster mother sought therapy – you can too.
P.S. Yuzuyu is still the cutest little kid in anime and manga. I shall love her forever. ♥
If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥
Plot: Duel Monsters is a trading card game that is quickly gaining popularity across Japan. Kaiba, heir to the powerful and massively successful Kaiba Corp., is a champion of the game and is always looking to ‘acquire’ rare cards. He sets his sights on Sugoroku’s extremely rare Blue-Eyes White Dragon card, but his means of acquiring it lead him into the clutches of Yami and a Shadow Game.
Breakdown: The manga did not include a scene where Kaiba has his goons viciously beat up a student at a school for the sake of getting his Dark Magician card, which he was vehement in not handing over because it was a memento of his father. Kaiba has apparently been doing this or similar things to everyone else at this school that has rare Duel Monster cards and has possibly wiped out other schools in the same manner.
I don’t think there are enough super-special-awesome cards out there rare enough to warrant this. Considering, in the 2000 anime, Yugi has a Dark Magician card by default, there is a duelist who specializes explicitly in Dark Magician cards, Dark Magician has several variations and is one of the easiest to get strong cards ever, I sincerely doubt that card is worth strong-arming from someone, especially when Kaiba’s one of the richest mothereffers in the world. (I’m aware that the stuff from the 2000 anime was nowhere near a thought when this came out, I’m just pointing out how weird it seems from that standpoint.)
In the manga, the story starts out with Yugi, Jonouchi and Anzu talking about the upcoming craze, Duel Monsters, at the game shop with Sugoroku. It has been popular in America for a while, but is just gaining traction in Japan. Sugoroku shows the kids his precious Blue-Eyes White Dragon card. It’s extremely rare because they stopped production on the card since it was deemed too powerful to use in the game.
Kaiba suddenly enters the card shop, and he makes no effort to hide his assholery as he looks at the cards Jonouchi just bought and calls them garbage before flippantly chucking them back at him. He also makes it clear that he’s a champion Duel Monsters player and wouldn’t sully his good name to play with an amateur, but gracefully offers to have Jonouchi duel him when he’s collected at least 10,000 cards.
If you know of the 2000 anime, you likely know how the rest goes in the manga. He sees Blue-Eyes, desperately wants it, offers Sugoroku an entire briefcase filled with rare cards for it, but Sugoroku refuses because it was a gift from a treasured friend, so Kaiba begrudgingly leaves. A very similar scene does happen a bit later on, but in Season Zero Kaiba makes a clear effort to get on Yugi’s good side first, believing he might have rare cards.
Jonouchi was originally extremely interested in Duel Monsters. In Season Zero, he spends a little time brushing it off as a childish game.
Honda is not in this chapter at all. In the anime, he goes on a tangent about protecting the students from unlawful card maniacs who will obtain Duel Monsters cards through illicit means.
Even though we’ve never seen him before this chapter, Yugi and the others act as if Kaiba has been a classmate for quite a while. In the anime, Kaiba just now transfers to their school for the sake of finding kids with rare cards and stealing them.
If you know Season Zero, you know it takes quite a bit for me to say this – This episode’s animation quality is noticeably worse than usual….and that’s just upsetting.
The anime is setup rather poorly, if you ask me. While the manga doesn’t make it a secret that Kaiba’s a douche, the anime goes to the trouble of establishing that he’s an even bigger douche than his manga counterpart, and then they try to pull off the ol’ ‘Forget what my clearly evil character design implies – I’m a good guy! Hey protagonist, let’s be pals! Wanna come to my really cool house? Invite your friends! I’m a good guy!’ to ‘Psych, I was really a bad guy! Muahahaha!’ switcheroo. In the anime, all you’re doing is waiting for the other boot to fall because we know Kaiba’s a bad guy who steals cards.
They could’ve pulled this off cleanly if they simply didn’t have the opening scene with Kaiba stealing the Dark Magician card, which is a scene that turns out to be entirely pointless outside of showing us prematurely that Kaiba’s a jerk.
Speaking of him pretending to be Kindba (hahah, I make the puns. They are funny) anime!Kaiba invites Yugi over to his house to check out his Duel Monster card collection. Yugi brings everyone else along, and Kaiba basically says ‘the more the merrier.’ Jonouchi hates him because he’s rich but also super nice because he translates that as being snobby. Honda later hates him because Miho starts fawning over him for giving them free tickets to his amusement park.
Kaiba conveys his Duel Monsters Champion status when he reveals his card collection room which also displays several of his trophies from Duel Monsters tournaments.
Kaiba asks Yugi if he has any rare cards, and Anzu remembers that Yugi said his grandpa has a really rare card. Kaiba asks if he could see it and Yugi agrees. Despite the other setup being poor, I like this particular setup because at least now Kaiba has a reason to visit the card shop. In the 2000 anime, Kaiba overhears Yugi talking about his grandpa’s rare card when they’re in class, which he just assumes might be the Blue-Eyes. The manga just has him randomly arrive.
I find it even weirder that Kaiba would do all of this without the belief that Yugi has a rare card. Kaiba is a complete ass. He wouldn’t play Mr. Nice Guy unless he knew he’d be able to get something out of it.
Somewhat minor, but the anime neglects to mention that, supposedly, people have killed each other over Duel Monsters cards before. Yikes.
Miho: “What!? I thought it would have diamonds or jewels attached to it!”……You thought a rare trading card for a children’s card game would have diamonds and jewels on it……Miho, please go be stupid somewhere else.
Also fairly minor, but the anime calls it Blue-Eyes Dragon not Blue-Eyes White Dragon. It’s not an issue with the subs either, I can hear it.
They point out that this next bit doesn’t make sense, but still—Honda claims it’s too dangerous to hold such a rare card and that Sugoroku should hand it over to the beautification club. Sugoroku asks why a beautification club member would care and Honda doesn’t have any response to that.
The beautification club stuff was silly enough at school, mostly because Honda keeps equating being a beautification club member to being a school prefect or something, but even if the beautification club had any say in these matters, why would he ask to confiscate a card that someone off school grounds is holding?….That an elderly man off school grounds is holding?……That an elderly man who owns a game shop off school grounds is holding?
I don’t think it’s a matter of him wanting to take the card for himself because Honda’s such a goodie-two shoes (well…kinda. He beats people up in the name of justice with Jonouchi sometimes) and I don’t think he even plays the game in the first place (His first match seems like it’s in the next scene). This whole sequence is just strange.
While the scene at the game shop plays out basically the same outside of those Honda and Miho moments, Kaiba continues to play the nice guy when he gets shot down. In the manga, he basically has a big huff and leaves.
The next scene in the manga has Yugi playing a friendly game of Duel Monsters with Jonouchi. In the anime, Jonouchi’s playing with Honda. The duel is changed up slightly, though. Honda plays the card manga!Jonouchi originally played, Zombie, and places it in the graveyard zone. The manga doesn’t have any sort of field advantage mat like the anime does, so the card just gets played regularly. Anime!Jonouchi plays the Dark Dragon card – the same one manga!Yugi played. It’s 1500 vs. 800, so Jonouchi declares himself as the winner, as manga!Yugi did, but anime!Yugi stops him. Since Honda played Zombie in the graveyard field, its attack points double, making it 1600, so Honda wins.
I find this increasing entertaining the more I think about it, because it’s almost like Yugi is retroactively cheating between versions for the sake of not letting Jonouchi win.
Also, DOUBLE ATTACK POWER for undead creatures in the graveyard? Are you insane? I know Zombie only had 800 attack points, but even slightly stronger creatures would be ridiculously overpowered in there.
Honda and Jonouchi both get into Duel Monsters for the sake of beating Kaiba. I find this disappointing because manga!Jonouchi was genuinely excited about the game itself and even challenged Kaiba before he started thinking he was a jackass. Having his one drive be defeating Kaiba, and pawning off that same drive on Honda, just feels lazy and uninteresting. Granted, they never play the game again after this, in this continuity anyway.
In the manga, Yugi randomly brings Blue-Eyes to school for the day after asking his grandpa if he could borrow it….for…some reason. In the anime, Kaiba specifically calls Yugi the previous night and asks if he can borrow the card from his grandpa so he can see it up close again.
I have problems with both versions. In the manga, why would he take such a rare card with him to school? His friends have already seen the card, and carrying around such a rarity just makes him a target for ‘maniacs.’
In the anime, why wouldn’t Yugi find it odd that Kaiba would ask him to do such a thing? His grandpa’s a reasonable guy. Surely he’d let Kaiba keep seeing it. Maybe not hold it again, but he’d be able to see it. Yugi’s a bit naive to believe Kaiba would ask something like that without having ulterior motives.
By the way, why is Kaiba allowed to wear such a drastically different school uniform? Every other boy has a blue uniform, but Kaiba is allowed to wear a pure white one in the anime. Is it just because he’s rich? (Just for the sake of noting this, he only wears his school uniform in a few episodes of the 2000 version, but his uniform is the proper color there.)
The manga only goes so far as to show Kaiba pulling the fake Blue-Eyes out of his pocket to make the switch while the anime decides to show him dropping the card to make the switch too. I like this change because it bugged me a little that we don’t see how Kaiba swapped the cards right in front of Yugi’s face.
In the manga, Yugi is the only one who notices that Kaiba swapped the cards. In the anime, Jonouchi and Honda notice and take action against Kaiba after school without telling Yugi. They promptly get their asses kicked by Kaiba’s guards.
I can’t really decide how much this bothers me. Anime!Yugi does later reveal that he noticed Kaiba take his card, but he thought Kaiba would reconsider and gave him the chance to return it. He was heading home with the fake and I guess hoped Kaiba would come to the shop later and confess or something. Manga!Yugi, on the other hand, confronted Kaiba after school about it, begged him to give him the card back since it’s so precious to his grandfather and got beat up by Kaiba in return.
I prefer the manga side in that regard because, while it is realistic that Yugi would give Kaiba the chance to own up to what he did and make things right, I don’t think Yugi would return home with the fake Blue-Eyes card and possibly have to break the bad news to his grandpa, who may notice it’s a fake.
Also, I’m a tad annoyed because so many episodes/chapters include the main characters getting beaten up. It starts to wear thin.
After school, Yugi walks home and is confronted by Anzu who tells him she thought he’d be with Honda and Jonouchi because they decided to challenge Kaiba. Yugi somehow puts it together that Honda and Jonouchi are back at school, on the roof no less, physically confronting Kaiba.
The rest of the exchange goes the same, essentially, but since the guards are in the picture in the anime, Yami has to beat them up before going to confront Kaiba.
The manga and Season Zero share the 2000 anime’s original default life point count of 2000, which will later get bumped up to 4000, though rarely, if ever, do they mirror the real life TCG’s default life point count of 8000.
Make fun of the game in later days all you want, it is a million times more complex and entertaining than the game in the manga and Season Zero. I would’ve been really bored playing the game like this. Most of the moves are drawing and playing whatever you’ve just drawn then attacking with whatever monster you summoned. Also, there’s only magic cards, no traps, though you can put magic cards face down and have them act like traps, I think?
Oh my god, the animation for the Dark Dragon falling! That is too hilarious. It was literally like someone knocked down a cardboard cutout. Is this a rough draft version of the episode? Wow.
It’s interesting seeing the beta versions of some of the more well-known Yu-Gi-Oh cards like Holy Elf/Mystical Elf and Minotaurus/Battle Ox.
Apparently Season Zero wants to channel Bakugan in the future for a minute here as they play a magic card, but only say it makes the monster stronger. They don’t explain how much stronger or for how long. In the manga, they explain that Growth increases Minotaurus’ attack by 20%.
In the manga, once Minotaurus is powered up, Yugi suffers several losses in a slight montage where his life points are eventually whittled down to 500. His next card has to be strong or else there’s a high chance he’ll lose, which is where Demon Summon/Summoned Skull comes into play a la heart of the cards.
What’s that? You say you thought the heart of the cards was some 2000 version bullshit? Haha, you’re silly, reader.
In the anime, Yugi only suffers the loss of Holy Elf. His life points stay the same, since she was in defense mode, and he instantly draws Demon Summon.
I don’t really mind this too much because the manga makes Yugi out to be a complete idiot who keeps throwing out weak monsters in attack mode instead of defense.
Also, have another aged chuckle, because Kaiba notes that Demon Summon is one of the five strongest monsters in the game. Wow.
Here’s where Kaiba really differs from manga and Season Zero to the 2000 anime. In the manga and Season Zero, Kaiba cheats by pulling a Blue-Eyes out of his jacket pocket, palming it and pretending to draw it on his next turn.
2000!Kaiba, as much of a jackass as he is, would never sully his good name or his honor as a duelist and cheat (The ‘summoning a bunch of monsters on one turn’ thing doesn’t really count because that was technically in the Duelist Kingdom days where half the moves were technically cheating or making shit up.) The closest he ever got was threatening to commit suicide if Yugi chose to defeat him, but that was only because Mokuba’s life/soul was on the line. If he lost that match, he’d have lost his only chance to challenge Pegasus and save his last remaining family and one of the only beings he loved.
Either Kaiba loses another monster off-panel in the manga or they did some bad math. Kaiba went down to 1500 LP when his Gargoyle was defeated. His 2040 Attack Minotaurus was his next monster to be downed, and it was by a 2500 Attack monster, which means he should be at 1040 LP. However, the next time we see his LP counter, it’s at 800.
I want to believe the anime did this wrong as well because Kaiba’s LP only go to 1200 when Minotaurus is defeated there. However, since the anime didn’t tell us Minotaurus’ exact power boost with Growth, I can only assume it’s wrong. It’s not either 800 or 1040, so unless they changed the card effect, it has to be wrong.
A small bit of text above Kaiba’s head in the manga implies that he also cheated to win those aforementioned tournaments, so this isn’t a new thing for him.
Oh, oh….oh retro Blue-Eyes and its animation…..Wow….just..wow.
What the…? Blue-Eyes isn’t even attacking and is, in fact, in the process of destroying itself, but anime!Yami’s life points are going down to 50? Whaaa?????
I would call BS on Blue-Eyes not attacking because he’s not Kaiba’s card, thus he doesn’t have his heart in it, Yugi’s grandfather does, but I think this is just the embodiment of Kaiba’s cheating so I’ll give it a pass.
I get that it’s poetic justice for Yami to revive Blue-Eyes to fight for him, but he could’ve just attacked Kaiba’s life points directly with Demon Summon. Or are direct attacks not allowed in this version, like it wasn’t in the first season of YGO? Also, when anime!Yami revived Blue-Eyes, why did he not attack with either?
Now when it’s anime!Kaiba’s turn, like Yami, his life points start going down for absolutely no reason. What the hell is happening?
Even more weirdness because, in the manga, Kaiba loses this duel, and the subsequent penalty game has a lasting effect on him that will herald in the biggest arc of the manga. Yami attacks with Blue-Eyes and wins.
In the anime….I have no clue what the hell happened. Kaiba draws a Gremlin, which, even with 2000 attack, isn’t enough to defeat either Demon Summon or Blue-Eyes. However…Kaiba summons him on a mountain range, I think, which, I guess, grants the card the ability called Split the Land….which automatically ends the duel in a draw…I suppose?
…..HUH!? Why did Kaiba not get defeated here? He not only should’ve lost, he should’ve got a well-deserved penalty game for cheating. But the anime decides, nah, let’s have it end in a draw? Even 2000!anime Kaiba lost. And where did Kaiba vanish to after the duel ended? What is going on!?!?
It also makes the setup for the Kaiba arc so much weaker than the manga. Instead of Kaiba, the champion, being pissed about being defeated and basically being forced to go through hell, instead he’s just butthurt that he got a tie.
I’m a bit surprised that manga!Yami was lenient on Kaiba in his penalty game. It’s horrible to be trapped in a card and experiencing something ‘close to death’ as all of the fallen creatures torment him, but he clearly says it’s only for one night whereas we’re left to assume most of the other people who got penalty games were punished indefinitely.
If they weren’t, then why haven’t people like Ushio come back to get their revenge on Yugi? Are they just too scared of him now? Have they changed their ways because of their punishment? Tetsu got straight-up killed for sure, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think most of the other penalty games stuck unless stated otherwise so…..??
Kaiba beat up numerous people, stole god knows how many Duel Monsters cards and tried to steal Yugi’s grandfather’s precious treasure. I’m not saying all of that is worth eternal torment or death, I’m saying Yami’s done worse to some people for much less. Why is Yami so inconsistent with how he punishes people?
Also, the anime ends with a few tags – Kaiba trashing his trophy room in anger at getting a mere draw in a duel, Yugi, Anzu and Jonouchi being glad Yugi got Blue-Eyes back (somehow) and an overly long really stupid sequence of Miho riding on the back of Honda’s bike and them spending a ridiculous amount of time on the ground in a daze after crashing.
I thought this was a good introduction to Duel Monsters, for the most part. I don’t think they do an adequate enough job explaining the rules (The manga does a lot more than the anime, but they have an advantage in being able to display fairly detailed text boxes that convey that type of info. Still, a good anime would be able to convey the information naturally), and both versions have a serious problem with keeping track of life points, but the anime moreso because both of their life points went down so far for literally no reason. Nothing was happening at the time, but they were losing points. I feel like they only did that so it would be more viable for the duel to end in a draw.
I already expressed how I also didn’t care much for the nice guy act they put on Kaiba in the anime. Like I said, that would’ve been perfectly fine if they didn’t ruin the act in the first place by showing Kaiba’s guards beating up a kid for a Duel Monsters card and establishing that he does that stuff all the time.
Kaiba’s design has been noted throughout the years as being the funniest manga/Season Zero design of all of our well-known characters because, while the Kaiba we know and love has brown hair, manga/Season Zero Kaiba…well. (Late Stage Edit: I initially said Manga!Kaiba had green hair too, but it’s pretty clear now that he’s always had brown hair in the manga. My mistake.)
Again, what is up with the screwed up colors in this show?
Do I even need to bring up the janky animation in this episode? This series has always been poorly animated, but this is lower than shoestring budget. It’s like…..off-brand floss budget. It reminded me of those old Filmmation cartoons from the 70s on occasion.
Kaiba is a good antagonist, of course, and I’m glad they left the door open for him to return in the future, but that draw wasn’t earned in the anime. He may not have been able to do anything with Blue-Eyes once he was on the field, but he still cheated. He deserved to lose. There’s honestly no reason he shouldn’t have lost either. It’s like the writers were cheating FOR them. What was wrong with the manga’s ending that they felt the need to change it? Just wanted it to seem more like Kaiba and Yugi/Yami were on the same level? That’s just silly.
Next time, some filler on the anime’s part and some not really filler but never adapted chapters in the manga.
If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥
Plot: A familiar face, Takuma, shows back up on Ai’s radar. He meets a wandering girl named Seri who quickly forms a bond with him – something he desperately needs now that his mother’s dead, his father’s comatose and the entire town has ostracized him, believing he’s responsible for both events. Seri has a dream of going someplace far away, and she may need to resort to less than ethical means of getting what she needs to achieve her goal.
Breakdown: Previously on “This Kid Can’t Catch a Fucking Break,” Takuma was a normal boy who had recently moved back to Japan with his famous producer father and loving mother. However, almost as soon as they had arrived back in town, they started being targeted for harassment. Piles of garbage would wind up on their yard time and again, and fliers claiming Takuma was a ‘devil child’ who killed animals were being strewn about town.
These incidents escalated until it reached the point where the mysterious harasser shot Takuma’s mother in the neck with an arrow – killing her almost instantly. Takuma was blamed for the murder. Only his father believed he was innocent. And soon, not even that would matter.
The real culprit behind the incident was an old friend of Takuma’s father – a jealous writer who felt his failure was on Takuma’s father’s shoulders. Once Takuma’s father realized who was really responsible, the man viciously attacked him with a broken bottle, leaving him on the cusp of death. Takuma arrived on scene during the attack. Just as he was about to get assaulted as well, the man vanished – he was a target of one of Hell Girl’s clients.
As fate would have it, the police arrived on scene shortly thereafter. Seeing Takuma in front of his badly wounded father and no one else in the room, they instantly suspected him. The town’s ire towards ‘the devil’s child’ got exponentially worse. Takuma’s father was lost in a coma, and Takuma was forced to bear the brunt of the whispers, glares and general hatred and fear of him all alone. No one would ever believe the real assailant vanished in thin air…
Takuma episodes are just so depressing. There’s just no real turning back for this poor kid. Even if his father wakes up and tells everyone point blank that his son had nothing to do with his assault, no one will believe him. They’ll just believe it’s a father trying to protect his son from being ostracized. Even if they get new identities and travel someplace far away, what’s done is done. This kid has an assorted box of trauma-filled chocolates.
Today, Takuma lives alone because anime just does that, okay? No parents? Live alone. Don’t care how old you are. He was let off of murder and assault charges because there wasn’t enough evidence, which is understandable. He’s trying his best to ignore practically everyone whispering about him as he goes about life, but he’s obviously badly effected by it.
A breezy girl named Seri, who seemingly has no idea of his past, befriends him. She explains that she used to live in the area, but her house was torn down for a train station that never got built due to lack of funds. She used to love going to a nearby creek, which was also destroyed, to see the frogs at night. The frogs were a nice distraction from listening to her parents argue. She grew to love frogs so much that she even has a frog charm on her cell phone and it’s very obvious that her favorite color is bright green.
Takuma and Seri bond very quickly – he even invites her to stay at his house while she’s in town, which she accepts. Apparently, Takuma’s yard is still covered in garbage – it’s unclear whether this is old garbage from the previous Takuma episode or new garbage from townsfolk who despise him.
It eventually comes to light that Seri is involved in some rather shady business. She wants to run away from the town forever and just live freely in some place where there will be a lot of frogs. She even invites Takuma along, though he declines because he has to stay with his father.
In order to leave, however, she needs a lot of money. She started blackmailing a man named Hasue. He was one of the people involved with the destruction of her home, so he was a perfect target. She lead him into having a date with her and then threatened to tell his company that he was having an explicit relationship with a minor, even though they hadn’t done anything together.
He agreed to pay her off, but he started to back out. Seri decided to visit him at his house to talk about it….with his wife present. He vehemently denied the relationship, but the wife didn’t believe him. This was just a taste of the backlash he’d get if she told everyone about them.
As a result, he once again agreed to pay her. He’d have the money for her the following day. Takuma tries to stop her, asking her to live there with him instead of running away, but she just hugs him, gives him the little frog charm as a gift and heads off.
Now, you may be wondering where Hell Girl and friends come in.
They pop up here and there throughout the episode, but we’re not really sure why until the end. Kikuri definitely makes her annoying ass presence known, however. She barges in on Takuma and Seri eating dinner and acts like a big pest. Hone Onna and Ai have to come in and wrangle her away. Also, she’s naked when they take her back and I have no idea why….She was wearing clothes when she entered the house….
When Seri goes to get the money from the mailbox, the designated drop-off location, we see who the client is. Hasue!
Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!
Legitimately, this actually surprised me. I thought for sure it would be Hasue. But nope. It was the wife the whole time. She put fake money in the mailbox and pulled the string as Seri rode away on her scooter, relishing in the sound of the bike crashing.
I’m not really clear on why she did it – was it for supposedly sleeping with her husband or blackmailing him about it? Maybe a little of both?
I’m not really sure what the purpose of the fake money even was. Did she want to see if Seri would actually extort them before damning her to hell or was it for the lolz?
Kikuri returns shortly after Seri leaves Takuma’s house, because she’s a purple-eyed bitch, and explains that Hell Girl is here for Seri not Takuma, something she wouldn’t divulge earlier.
Struck with this realization, he rushes off to try and save Seri only to find her crashed scooter in the middle of the road and Seri nowhere to be found.
In conclusion, Takuma made a friend for a day only to have her both leave him voluntarily and then get sent to hell immediately after. Not only that, but he’s standing in what could be considered another crime scene. They don’t show any police there, but he technically is.
This isn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination. It was nice to get an update on Takuma, even if his life is horrible right now, and I liked seeing him have a confidant. The Hell Girl angle was also well-handled. The client’s identity really threw me for a loop, and the motive behind targeting Seri is understandable, even if the exact details behind why the wife was the client are a little hazy.
However, it is tainted by the fact that this episode is a bit overly depressing. Hell Girl’s not sunshine and butterflies (Well, okay, twilight sunshine and weird glowing butterflies) but I’m already sick to death of Takuma’s life being blown up ten ways to Sunday. The kid already has a shitty enough life. There’s no reason to have whole plotlines dedicated to beating him down some more. He’s a sweet kid and it’s just difficult to watch.
No matter what light MAY be at the end of the tunnel for poor Takuma, it won’t be enough for the viewer. He’s been through too much, and we’re still not done with the poor kid.
What a nice early Christmas gift – The Anime Madhouse just hit 500 followers on WordPress! 😀
I wish I had something more special written up for this or something unique to review to celebrate, but with the holidays and other hectic stuff, I didn’t prepare anything. Still, thank all of you so much for following me, reading my rambles, rants and reviews of varying levels of sanity, commenting, and just overall being really awesome. ♥
I’ve been doing this for a really long time now, and all of you give me the drive to keep doing this in the tough spots and the excitement to post some of my favorite pieces. I’m a firm believer that you should always write for yourself first, but just knowing some other people are reading and enjoying my work makes it all the more fun to do it.
To all of my 500 followers, even the bots, have a very Merry Christmas, a bunch of Happy Holidays and an awesome new year!
Hey everybody! Lesley of Lesley’s Anime and Manga Corner and Bloom Reviews nominated me for more Sunshine Blogger Awards! Thank you very much for the nominations, guys, and go check out their blogs now if you haven’t already. There’s plenty of anime and manga reviews, discussions and just overall goodness for ya. 🙂
Here are the rules:
Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog so that other people can visit them
Answer the 11 questions put to you by the nominator
Nominate 11 bloggers of your choosing and provide them with a new set of 11 questions to answer
Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts
List the rules and display The Sunshine Blogger Award logo within your post or on your blog site
Let’s start with Lesley’s questions!
1) What was the first anime that you watched that made you realize that you were a fan of the medium?
This question I had to give some deeper thought that I first anticipated, because while I definitely remember the first few anime I watched that started me on this path, it’s hard for me to say which series made me truly realize that I was becoming a fan of anime as a medium.
I’ve mentioned before that my first few anime were Pokemon, Digimon and Sailor Moon, then I watched a bunch of stuff like Yugioh and Beyblade, things on Toonami, shows on Adult Swim etc. I had watched a lot of anime before I think it truly clicked with me that I was a fan of anime.
I remember, when I was much younger, G4 Tech TV had an anime block on very late at night. I didn’t have access to the channel on my bedroom TV, and at one point my dad even put a timer on the thing to make the power to it cut at a certain time so I wouldn’t stay up to crazy late hours.
But when I could, I’d sneak downstairs where the living room TV had access to the channel and watch shows on that block. Even though the block had several series, the one that always stood out for me was Crest of the Stars. I think when I realized I was sneaking around to watch anime, particularly that one show, was when I came to truly realize I was an anime fan.
Shortly afterward, I was ordering Anime Insider magazine and getting into making AMVs and truly immersing myself in the medium.
2) Which anime series is your favorite and why?
Fruits Basket. Even though it’s somewhat of a hot button topic now that the reboot is out, I still really adore the original 2001 series. It has a perfect mixture of humor and drama, and I love nearly all of the characters. Outside of it obviously being unfinished in regards to the manga ending, it’s hard for me to find many flaws with it. And it’s a rare case of me having seen a series fully in Japanese and English and loving both.
3) Which anime character do you feel most resembles you?
My answer to this question used to be Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, but now I feel like I look a bit more like Hange from Attack on Titan.
4) If you ever have kids, would you consider naming one after an anime character? If so, which name and why?
True story: So before Jaden Smith became a joke, I considered naming a possible future kid of mine Jaden because of Jaden from Yugioh GX. I just liked the name, and it might not count because I’m not too attached to the character. Plus it’s an English name and I don’t think that’s what you’re going for here.
For either a boy or girl, Voyager. It was the name of a one-off character on Pokemon The First Movie and I fell in love with it. It’s badass, it has an anime background, it’s mysterious, what more could you ask for?
5) Is there a manga or light novel series that you’re currently reading?
As of this writing, I’m reading Higanjima, which is a horror manga, I’m finishing off Digimon Adventure V-Tamer. I’m re-reading Fruits Basket in a weird read-watch-watch along with the original anime and the reboot. And I’m reading Tokyo Mew Mew for the sake of an AniManga Clash.
6) If you could be best friends with an anime character, which one would it be and why?
I’m feeling Luffy for this one. He’s a ton of fun, a great friend, incredibly loyal and he’d kick the ass of anyone who’d do us wrong, or at the very least give me the confidence to kick their ass.
7) Are you a fan of any particular anime director? If so, who is it and why?
I’m probably going to go for the somewhat cliché route and say Satoshi Kon or Shinichiro Watanabe. I don’t much follow directors unless they have really really notable works under their belts, and these were the ones who came to mind. Satoshi Kon made some insanely creative and thought-provoking features while Shinichiro Watanabe has such an amazing style in storytelling and building the world for you that it’s hard to not get immersed in it.
8) Do you have a favorite anime studio?
Would it be too obvious to say Madhouse? Bones coming close second.
9) Do you have a favorite mangaka?
Not really. Maybe Yukinobu Hoshino, the creator of the 2001 Nights manga.
10) Do you have a favorite anime animal character?
I’ve gone through this question a few times, so I’ll change it up and say TurtleDucks from Avatar the Last Airbender….It’s a duck mixed with a turtle. How does that not spawn love in your heart?
11) Is there anything else you want to say in addition to the other questions that I asked?
I feel like I should take this opportunity to say something inspirational.
Now for Bloom Reviews questions!
1) What was the scariest movie or show you’ve ever watched?
It takes a lot to actually scare me in regards to stories and movies and such, but I have always been freaked out by the Halloween movies (well, most of them) Even though I absolutely love them (Not the Rob Zombie ones….) they do make me consider leaving the lights on at night after I watch one, and I do feel a bit of paranoia during watching.
Michael’s mask as a whole, at least when they do the lighting right so you can’t see his eyes, is one of the most haunting things I’ve ever seen, and the original movies have a great sense of pacing and suspense.
2) Are there certain genres of TV shows or books that you stay away from or hate reading? Why?
I pretty much avoid any reality show that is literally just ‘watch (blank) live their lives.’ Watch a famous couple live their lives, watch a family of little people live their lives, watch a bunch of spoiled rich snobs live their lives, watch a bunch of famous spoiled rich snobs who also happen to be little people live their lives, watch this unreasonably large family live their lives etc. etc. etc. (Just in case I stepped on toes with the little people comment, it’s great to give everyone representation and show their struggles, but at the end of the day 99% of it is still watching normal people live their lives.)
I don’t know how we reached a point where just watching other people do the most mundane stuff with the most obviously fabricated drama thrown in became such a big sensation. My mom likes a ton of these shows, so I’m forced to watch some of them sometimes and I just don’t get it. I especially don’t like when they focus on the rich people living their lives, and yes some of that might be based on jealousy, but other times it’s just because of how ridiculous these people are disconnected from the real world and conceited at that.
I forget the name of the show, but there’s a rich famous couple, I think the guy is a wrestler, and they decided to make friends with their neighbors by sticking action figures….of themselves…into the mailboxes of their neighbors.
I say ‘pretty much avoid’ because I do watch some reality TV, but most of it is competition shows or things with educational value.
3) Who was your first celebrity/character crush and why?
I think it was the Blue Ranger/Billy/David Yost from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Not only was he very likable, cute and super smart, but damn if he didn’t get hot in later seasons. David Yost also seems like he’s a great guy IRL, so if I was going to have a first character/celeb crush, I’m glad it was him. Shame he left the series, and even bigger shame as to the reasons why.
4) What was one show your parents hated you watching but you watched anyways?
That’s a real tough one because I was a goody two-shoes most of the time and my parents had a pretty good hold on what I watched. I guess Pokemon might qualify here. They never liked me playing the games or watching the anime because, at the time, their religious beliefs skewed them into thinking it was unhealthy for me to watch. But they still bought me Pokemon stuff, same with my Grandparents, who had the same beliefs, and I still watched it every chance I got.
I’ll sneak in another mention here because I know my parents wouldn’t have been happy if they knew I was watching the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network. Not like anything on that block was horribly adult, especially back then, but they certainly wouldn’t have let me watch it anyway.
5) I’ve recently gotten addicted to podcasts, do you have any recommendations for podcasts or other talk shows you enjoy listening to?
I don’t really listen to a lot of podcasts, but my personal favorites are Sawbones, which is a medical podcast where they talk about a lot of interesting aspects of old and new facets of medicine – The hosts are a married couple, and they bounce off of each other very well and have a great energy about them – the Nick Animation podcast, which is awesome for anyone interested in animation and the BTS stuff involved in their favorite old and new Nicktoons, and If I Were You, hosted by Jake and Amir (previously) of CollegeHumor, which is basically an advice podcast where they give both funny and serious answers to inquiries.
6) I’m currently relaxing on vacation right now. What’s your favorite summertime or beach read?
I’m not the biggest reader (at least of regular novels – I read western comics and manga a lot). Also, I don’t tend to read much while on vacation or at the beach. I’m usually chilling out some other way. I guess I’ll say any Star Wars novel, because those tend to be really relaxing to me for some reason lol.
7) It’s starting to get towards the end of summer. What’s one aspect of this season that you look forward to the most? Vacation? A certain event? Warmth?
I tend to not like summer too much because I am miserable in the heat, but I do like swimming, roasting marshmallows and going to the local fair the most.
8) Conversely, Fall is pretty much upon us. What’s one thing about the season you’re really looking forward to?
Now you’re in my wheelhouse! Fall is my favorite season! And I’d have to say it’s a tie between Halloween and seeing the leaves change color.
9) Tell me about the style of your blog and why you picked the color, banner, and subject matter that you did.
My blog’s style, as you can probably tell from the name, is just general craziness. Initially, I had a much lighter blog theme and only the banner was really crazily designed, but once I switched, I had a bit more fun with it. I picked darker colors with some bright/glowing contrasts in my second (technically third or fourth, considering I tried a couple other briefly before settling here) theme because I think that lends itself better to the crazy type of tone going on.
I made my banner myself. I basically looked for shots from anime that had stuck out in my mind for being particularly over-exaggerated or insane. I fiddled around A LOT with fonts, colors and background designs before just reaching one I liked after hours of trial and error. I did purposely throw some purple in there because purple’s my favorite color.
I picked the background image after searching Google for insane anime-related pictures and just stumbling upon it. I thought it was, forgive the pun, insanely awesome and fit perfectly in my page. It was also the background of my menu on my first blog theme, but you couldn’t see it well.
When I first started doing anime reviews, I had been inspired by a lot of Internet reviewers at the time, and I had been somewhat known for my rants, ramblings and weirdness, so I figured a blog with a crazy ‘madhouse’ theme was best suited for me.
As for why I chose anime, manga and animated features to review and discuss here, I simply started doing it a long, long time ago on a long-since dead website. I kinda enjoyed writing and I loved anime, so I started writing posts about it in the website’s blog section since that was the place relegated for personal opinion pieces and whatnot. It took me a little while longer to branch out into reviewing western animation and several years more before I started reviewing manga.
I try to stay within the confines of anything animated since that’s what I know best. I also love horror movies and comics, but I am definitely not comfortable enough to review those. I just don’t know enough to talk about them as a whole in enough depth to give them justice.
Also, despite still keeping a tone of craziness and fun in here, I do now try to keep a stronger balance with serious analysis and exploration when the situations call for it. Never giving up the Madhouse, but definitely want to give more quality for your views.
10) What about blogging drew you to make your own blog?
I really didn’t have much experience with blogs before starting one of my own. I did start posting on a blog on the aforementioned website/forum, and when I moved to another forum where I started doing these reviews more formally, even though we did have a blog section, I mostly posted in official review threads.
My drive for seeking out a real blog was to have a place all my own where I could organize my reviews and other writings, particularly because, by that point, I had started writing several other series such as Sub/Dub Comparisons, my Pokemon movie/short/episode reviews and even my special reviews for holiday specials.
I was spread out all over the forum, and the forum was mostly dead by that point. I didn’t have really any readers at all and I felt like I was bombarding an empty land with my writing for no reason. Even though I still don’t have the biggest audience, I still feel like I’ve built a home here and have people reading and even responding to my work, which makes me feel much more content.
11) Is there anything about content creators in particular or content creation in general that you find annoying or frustrating?
I can’t really think about one encompassing thing about content creators that annoys me. It’s mostly just things specific content creators do because of their own specific style or personality.
Myself, though, I find trying to convey my opinions in a manner that is both entertaining but not devalued by the entertainment aspect to be frustrating. I want my blog to be enjoyable to read. I strive to be funny while also providing a valid opinion and interesting information about what I’m covering. Finding the balance is insanely difficult to the point where I feel like I rarely, if ever, actually find it. I’ll re-edit posts several times trying to find this balance and so many times I feel like I just have to compromise for one or the other.
1) Have you ever completely changed your opinion on an anime or manga after rewatching/reading it again or because someone shared some compelling thoughts about it?
2) What is the most ridiculous reason you’ve seen for someone not liking something?
3) What flying animal or device from any anime or manga would you choose as your primary mode of personal air travel?
4) What was your favorite subject in school and why?
5) What character in an anime or manga do you think suffered from the worst example of backwards character development/devolving? (IE, they started out fine or even good but got progressively worse over time?)
6) What’s your favorite board or card game to play?
7) In your opinion, which anime/manga character had the most pointless death? (Spoiler tags)
8) Besides anime or manga, what’s something that you can talk about endlessly? Like once you get going on the subject, time flies?
9) No shipping hate, but which shipping in anime or manga makes the least sense to you but somehow ended up canon and/or endgame?
10) Did you have a toy, doll etc. that you never went anywhere without as a child?
11) What plot twist in an anime or manga basically ruined the entire series to you?
I’m opting out of tagging people this time around, so anyone who sees this and wants to give it a shot, step right up! 🙂